More Cell Phones Mean More Roadway Danger


March 21, 2011

Many people have an intuitive notion that using a cell phone while driving is dangerous and can lead to serious motor vehicle fatalities. Opponents of laws limiting the use of cell phones while driving argue that the ability to use a cell phone to immediately summon an ambulance in an emergency offsets any increase in accidents from distracted driving.

We have written prior articles in this blog based on statistical evidence that cell phone use does result in an increase in accident fatalities. However, one study actually explains why the lives that are saved from a quicker emergency response resulting from the growth of cell phone use does not reduce car accident fatality rates.

The study factored in a number of variables, including vehicle speed, alcohol consumption, seat belt use, and miles driven. The study found the cell phone-fatality correlation to be true even when weighing in factors such as speed, alcohol consumption, and seat belt use. According to the study, cell phones initially resulted in a significant jump in accident fatality rates, which the researcher attributes to the inexperience of users and novelty of cell phones when cell phones were first developed. This theory provides a reasonable justification for laws in many states including Georgia that prohibit ALL cell phone use whether texting or talking while driving for drivers under 18 with provisional licenses. This study suggests the novelty of cell phone use combined with the inexperience of new teen drivers is more likely to cause auto accident fatalities.

Another interesting observation from the study is that there was a period of time when auto accident-related fatalities seemed to decline as cell phone use increased. It is speculated that this temporary reduction was a result of people being able to notify 911 promptly after an accident allowing medical personnel to respond to serious car accidents more rapidly. Once cell phone usage hit what the researcher calls a "critical mass" of a hundred million cell phone users, however, this trend reversed so that the increased number of distracted drivers meant more auto accident fatalities despite quicker emergency response to accident scenes.

According to one study, motorists who use their cell phone while driving have a 400% greater risk of being involved in a car crash than someone who is not using a cell phone. Cell phone usage interferes with driving ability by distracting a driver in a number of ways including:

  • Visual Distractions: When drivers make a call they typically look at the phone to dial the number or locate a contact from the phone's list of contacts. A texting driver must also look at the phone when reading or writing texts.
  • Physical Distractions: When making a call, the driver must manipulate the dial pad or touch screen or scroll through menus which means taking the driver's hands off the wheel. Many of us also have observed texting drivers using their forearms to steer as they type away on their keyboard composing text messages.
  • Mental Distractions: Whether talking or texting, a driver using his or her cell phone does not have all of his or her mental concentration focused on the road and potential hazards.

While there is little doubt that distracted driving from cell phone results in more accidents and a greater number of motor vehicle-related fatalities, responsible cell phone use could result in a net decrease in car crash fatalities. If drivers abstain from using their phone when moving and pull over to call 911 when they are involved in or observe an accident, lives could be saved. Although Georgia has enacted a law prohibiting texting while driving, adults are still allowed to talk on a cell phone while driving. It remains to be seen whether Georgia will decide to enact stricter rules or stiffer penalties to discourage cell phone-related car accidents.

If you have suffered serious injury or your loved one has suffered wrongful death in a car accident with someone talking or texting on a cell phone, Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, can help you obtain just compensation including medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, disability and disfigurement as well as loss of consortium (loss of services or affections of a spouse).

Our experienced Georgia auto accident attorneys are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located we are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

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Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.